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Promoting Complex Systems Learning through the use of Computer Modeling

Authors: Kamel Hashem, David Mioduser


This paper describes part of a project about Learningby- Modeling (LbM). Studying complex systems is increasingly important in teaching and learning many science domains. Many features of complex systems make it difficult for students to develop deep understanding. Previous research indicates that involvement with modeling scientific phenomena and complex systems can play a powerful role in science learning. Some researchers argue with this view indicating that models and modeling do not contribute to understanding complexity concepts, since these increases the cognitive load on students. This study will investigate the effect of different modes of involvement in exploring scientific phenomena using computer simulation tools, on students- mental model from the perspective of structure, behavior and function. Quantitative and qualitative methods are used to report about 121 freshmen students that engaged in participatory simulations about complex phenomena, showing emergent, self-organized and decentralized patterns. Results show that LbM plays a major role in students' concept formation about complexity concepts.

Keywords: Complexity, Educational technology, Learning by modeling, Mental models

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